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Monday, April 16, 2007


THE SAD DECLINE OF FRANCE: FRENCH FLEE STAGNANT ECONOMY 

French flee stagnant economy - Europe - MSNBC.com

When a rich, western nation embraces socialism then only bad things can happen. France is a perfect example. It's meddlesome government passes thousands of economic regulations per year but the French economy only worsens.

Private companies can't fire underperforming workers. Young, eager workers can't get hired at struggling, stagnant firms. The welfare system is too big for France to properly manage. The famed republic is in decline.

France is a disaster.



Half of French households live on less than $1,990 in income per month. Unemployment hasn’t fallen below 8 percent since 1984. Public debt has quintupled since 1980 to fund a welfare state that more people depend on for survival. Imports are spiking and fueling a ballooning trade deficit. France was among the top 10 richest countries per capita a generation ago — today’s it’s slipped to 17th place.


Will France hear the wake-up call and realize that capitalism is its salvation?


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Opposition Rally in Russia Halted by Police for 2nd Day - New York Times 

Opposition Rally in Russia Halted by Police for 2nd Day - New York Times

The winds of frustration are swirling around Vladimir Putin.

Organizers of the rallies, including the former chess champion Garry Kasparov, who was arrested Saturday and later released, call them “dissenters’ marches.” They have been supported by people with diverse political views who say they are standing up for their right to oppose Mr. Putin. The groups taking part include the National Bolshevik Party of the novelist Eduard Limonov, which is known for its acts of civil disobedience and which has been banned by the government as an extremist group.

The Other Russia alliance had applied for a permit for the Moscow march but was refused. The alliance defied the ban, as it did for both marches in St. Petersburg and one in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod in March.

On Saturday in Moscow, Mr. Kasparov was arrested in a cafe before the rally even began. He was held until late Saturday evening, accused of shouting antigovernment slogans. He was eventually released and fined 1,000 rubles, or about $39.

Riot police officers tugged at the clothing of Mikhail M. Kasyanov, Mr. Putin’s former prime minister and now an opposition leader, but did not arrest him. His bodyguards were arrested. The police also detained Maria Gaidar, a daughter of a former prime minister, and Ilya Yashin, the leader of the youth wing of the Yabloko opposition party.

In St. Petersburg on Sunday, the police said they arrested 120 people. Among those held was Mr. Limonov, who was arrested in an apartment together with eight members of his group.



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FRANCE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: SARKOZY V. SEGOLENE IN THE BATTLE OVER THE FRENCH SUBURBS, THE BANLIEUES 

France - Elections - Immigrants - Housing Projects - Poverty - New York Times



The Parisian suburbs, populated by immigrants and minorities, are separate enclaves neglected by the Parisians who live in the exclusive arrondissements.

For many observers, both inside and outside the country, the future of France is at stake in this election. Sarkozy’s supporters, who include a number of prominent intellectuals (unlike in almost every other rich country, their role continues to be significant in France), say he represents a clean break with the politics of the past half-century in France. For the novelist Marc Weitzmann, an enthusiastic “Sarkozyiste,” French postwar politics was dominated first by an unholy alliance between Charles de Gaulle and the French Communist Party and then by the Socialist François Mitterrand and the Gaullist Jacques Chirac, who in a sense perpetuated this sclerotic political arrangement. For Weitzmann, Sarkozy provides an alternative to a system that has failed to produce social peace, failed to adapt to France’s reduced role in the world and above all failed to reform its economy on either the Tony Blair model or the German Social Democratic model.

A decade ago, it would have been inconceivable to have found a Parisian intellectual like the writer Pascal Bruckner supporting a right-wing candidate like Sarkozy. But as Bruckner put it to me recently, Sarkozy “wants to give a kick in the rear to our old, decrepit country, to put an end to the French feeling of self-hatred, to reinforce our self-esteem and the value of work. He wants to extricate us from our decadence and put an end to the so-called ‘French exception,’ which is nothing more than the narcissism of failure.”


Will third-party candidate Francois Bayrou prove to be the upstart? We shall see, the election is very soon.


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